Cataract Canyon River Rafting Trips

A Cataract Canyon rafting trip down the Colorado River is synonymous with adventure. Deep in the heart of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park, the mighty Colorado flows through a red rock wonderland and over some of the most awesome cataracts (old-fashioned word for waterfalls!) in the American Southwest. Our oar-powered rafts carry you into the most remote, least-accessible parts of the park. Hike into a side canyon with cascading streams, along rocky saddles with sweeping views, or to ancient cultural sites. On this iconic river rafting trip, we experience both ultimate tranquility and adrenaline-pumping whitewater.

The river moves quietly at first, inviting you to embrace “river time.” Drift past crimson-colored cliffs and orange table-top mesas. Stare in awe at the red walls and muddy river surrounding you, truly reflecting that the word “Colorado” means the “color red.”

It’s never been so easy to unplug and let go as in these calm waters above the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers.

Once beyond the confluence, the river does not rest. Nowhere on its entire course does the Colorado River descend more precipitously than through Cataract Canyon. The roar of the rapids will lull you to sleep and wake you up in the morning, inviting you to take a ride. This is Colorado River whitewater rafting at its best! Run more than 30 big rapids, including Mile Long, Ben Hurt, and the granddaddy of them all, The Big Drop, where the river descends over 30 feet in less than three-quarters of a mile. Cataract Canyon rafting trips are the best natural water park in the West!

Come along for a classic five or six day trip through Cataract Canyon, or take advantage of a rare treat and join us September 20-27, 2024 for an extended eight-day float and hiker special! This particular trip launches from Mineral Bottom, on the Green River. Spend the first few days enjoying the calm waters of Stillwater Canyon before merging with the Colorado River at the Confluence.

Want even more river days? Then tag along for all 12-days of our fall Canyonlands extended trip!

Read More:  Insider’s Guide to Rafting the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon.

Green River, Utah: Things to Do and Places to Explore

Featured Review:

“Fantastic! We have done more than a few rafting trips with Holiday and are impressed with how consistently excellent our experiences have been. The guides are knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly! They go out of their way to make white water rafting a fun adventure!” (Scott and Stephanie Chamberlain)

Holiday is an authorized concessioner of Canyonlands National Park.  Additionally, (& more importantly) southern Utah’s canyon country was home to Indigenous people and cultures long before our modern society existed. Out of respect for these people, Holiday wishes to acknowledge that Cataract Canyon and the stretches of the Green and Colorado Rivers that approach it are the traditional homelands of the Pueblos and the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) people. Read more about our land acknowledgments here.
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Trip Overview

  • Type:

    Rafting

  • Location:

    Colorado River - Canyonlands National Park

  • Length:

    5 and 6 Days

  • Dates:

    May–September

  • Meet at:

    Green River, Utah @ 7:00 pm (night before the trip)

  • Difficulty:

    Intermediate, Advanced

  • Min. Age:

    8 (16 in May & June)

  • Prices:

    5-Day
    Adult - $1,485
    Youth - $1,345 (18 & under)
    Senior - $1,345 (65 & older)
    Group - $1,345 (10 or more)
    + $2 land use fee

    6-Day
    Adult - $1,600
    Youth - $1,450 (18 & under)
    Senior - $1,450 (65 & older)
    Group - $1,450 (10 or more)
    + $2 land use fee

  • Deposit:

    400

Highlights

  • Oar power lets us move in harmony with the river
  • Calm stretches perfect for inflatable kayaks & stand-up paddle boards
  • Great swimming opportunities; good blend of flat water and rapids
  • Float the remote reaches of Canyonlands National Park
  • Huge sandy beaches and red cliffs
  • Dramatic Colorado Plateau geology
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates

Itinerary

Cataract Canyon trips launch from the Potash boat ramp on the Colorado River just south of Moab, Utah. Float through 47 miles of unbelievable canyon scenery to the confluence with the Green River at the center of Canyonlands National Park. This is where the whitewater starts. After more than 30 exhilarating rapids, we’ll arrive at the northern tip of Lake Powell, and take out near the former Hite Marina.

Sample Itinerary

The night before your trip:

Please meet at our Green River, Utah warehouse for a 7:00 p.m. Mountain Time pre-trip meeting. You’ll meet your guides, receive your waterproof bags and instructions on how best to pack them, and have time to purchase last minute items from our store (look over our packing checklist for a list of such items). Please consider dropping off any personal beverages (specialty sodas, beer, wine, etc.) at this time so that we can pack them into our coolers.

Day 1:

We’ll meet you back at our Green River headquarters the next morning at the time determined during the pre-trip meeting. It’s a 90-minute ride to the put-in, east along the base of the Book Cliffs, then south toward Moab. Hop in an inflatable kayak or onto a stand-up paddle board (SUP) for some exercise, or settle in on a raft. We’ll lunch on a sandbar and maybe take a short afternoon hike to an exposed petrified wood boneyard. Look up high to wave to visitors at Dead Horse Point State Park. We’ll camp on a sandbar and kick the trip off with a delicious meal as the guides help everyone get accustomed to river life.

Day 2:

Morning sun makes the walls glow like red gold. Listen for the descending song of the canyon wren, or paddle your SUP along the shore in search of otters and great blue herons. The Colorado meanders peacefully in this section. Swim alongside the rafts or lounge under an umbrella; the afternoon may provide the opportunity to hike to thousand-year-old rock structures built by the Fremont Culture. Learn to spot granaries (ancient food storage structures) on the cliff walls as we continue downstream.

Day 3:

Today we’ll reach the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers, believed by some cultures to be the center of the universe. Swim through the line where the two rivers meet and buckle up your personal flotation device! Rapids are just a few miles ahead. Just below the confluence, enjoy a view of the Doll House, a collection of freestanding, sandstone columns: one of the remotest regions of the Maze District of Canyonlands.

Day 4:

Wake to the sound of nature’s white noise machine: rapids! After a hearty breakfast, we’ll do a whitewater safety talk, tighten our PFDs, and prepare to get splashed. We’ll stop and scout a few of the biggest rapids, giving plenty of time for the suspense to build. Hold on tight for the Big Drops: Little Niagara and Satan’s Gut! We may stop and look at some historic inscriptions or explore one of the many side canyons. We’ll roll into our camp for the night along with a wave of endorphins, and celebrate our successful runs with a riverside feast.

Day 5:

After a few last rapids, the water calms again, and the canyon walls rise, smooth and majestic. We’re now officially in Glen Canyon Recreation Area – an area constantly in flux as the Lake Powell Reservoir water levels change. As the reservoir levels drop, the Mighty Colorado river continues its path downstream, and we’ll float our way to the take out just beyond the mouth of the Dirty Devil River. A two-hour drive brings us back to Green River. Our expected time of arrival back at our headquarters is from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Wilderness river trips are changeable by nature. Please understand that this is only a sample itinerary. You may have the opportunity to do all of the above activities, or you may have a variety of other memorable and exciting experiences. Holiday’s motto is “Go With the Flow”, and we encourage you to arrive with an open mind, a flexible attitude, and an appetite for adventure!

Guide Susan rowing into a rapid on the Colorado River

Cataract Canyon trips are true wilderness adventures, and itineraries vary widely depending on weather, the desires of each group, campsite availability, and the need to be courteous to other groups on the river. This is a sample itinerary intended to provide one example of a five-day trip through Cataract.

In July and August, we lengthen our Cataract Canyon trips to six days to account for slower river flows. If you are on a six-day Cataract Canyon trip, you can expect a similar itinerary to this one; however, with lower late-season river flows and an extra day to play, you may take some extra time in the upper canyon exploring archaeological sites or side canyons and reach the confluence sometime on the fourth day. You may dive into some whitewater rafting on day four but likely will spend that night nestled between mighty rapids in the heart of Cataract Canyon. Run the Big Drops on the fifth day and finish up on day six by exploring the upper reaches of Narrow Canyon on our way to the Hite boat-ramp and the “real” world.

Reviews

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Holiday River Expeditions
Average rating:  
 145 reviews
 by Jesse

First time ever whitewater rafting, was definitely nervous. The way the guides explained everything thoroughly eased my mind. Every possible scenario that could happen on the river was explained in great detail- this was helpful! Both guides (Nick and Joey) had a wealth of information and experience on the river by pointing out significant landmarks and taking our group on hikes. Don’t think just because you are camping- the food will be subpar- you get 5 star food every meal. They will work around your preferences/ allergies… sad to see the excess food thrown away as we had plenty! Our guides set the entire camp up with the exception of our own tents. Don’t worry about the rapids because there are spots on the boats for you to get soaked or experience the ride. Believe me, our guides hit every rapid to a T! They also stopped for safety to scout the major rapids and ensure we had the best route. Definitely will be coming back, loved the experience!

 by Frank & Kathleen Mellon Rossi

We've done multiple trips with Holiday over the past 20+ years and have always had an excellent experience, even if the going gets 'challenging' due to weather, water level, beach access, physical capacity or other factors. We hope to go again.

 by Hannah Martin

Natalie and Karen make the booking so easy and headache free.



Aside from my user error of not sealing my bag appropriately (got my bedding wet on the rapid section lol), the dry and day bags were great! I'm impressed with how much they fit as well!



Guides 15/10

Hikes 10/10

Food 15/10

Transportation 10/10



I have never had a bad time on the river with Holiday. They are so organized in both the office, the warehouse, and on the river which helps guests feel confident in their safety. There is so much to do on the river. Most people think whitewater, camping, bugs, hot days, etc. could be risky, boring, or not luxurious, however, when I go river rafting, I can't think of anything closer to paradise. Holiday does it best!

 by Chuck Loesner

Last summer, after our Yampa River trip with Holiday, my then-14-year-old son - who had to be talked into doing the trip in the first place - said "Next time, let's find a river with more rapids." So this year, we went to Cataract Canyon at the tail end of high water. Mission accomplished! We had a great trip. The guides, the food, the river, the scenery, everything was amazing. There was even a surprise wedding at the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers; sadly, we didn't pack our tuxedo t-shirts. It will be a hard trip to top, but we look forward to trying soon.

 by Mara & Kevin Rabin

We had the most amazing river trip during HIGH water in Cataract Canyon. Our guides were INCREDIBLE! Brin was especially knowledgeable about the geology and history of Cataract Canyon- from the Ancient Puebloans to John Wesley Powell to today's Colorado River issues relating to the West's need for water. The overall camaraderie, competence, and skill that all the guides possessed made our trip along with the absolutely spectacular scenery. I felt nervous about the high water but had total confidence in the guides. Their joy after successfully running Cataract at 48,000 cfs was infectious and truly enhanced my experience. The river trip was restorative, peaceful, high energy, and absolutely extraordinary. I cannot wait to return for another trip!

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